Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Awesomest Basement In The World

Or, at least according to Stingray it is, anyway. Well he's gotten skates and a chloroform bottle out of there already, so I can see why might feel that way.

I'm working on cleaning out the basement at the Old Homestead (again....) so that we can fit a bed in the bedroom down there so that I'll have a place to sleep in the imminent time when the shower works and the whole FarmFam retires to semi-hermitude.

We cleaned out a bunch of stuff last year but that still left all of the stuff we wanted to keep, which included plenty of "I see a few things in that box that I want to keep, set it aside to keep and we'll go through it later."

Later is here, friends, and it's kind of mad that we waited so long. There's stuff that I know we had a plan for, but I can't for the life of me remember what in the world it was.

There's also a bunch of just flat-out neat stuff. Like this find:


Yep, that's a war ration book, and yes, it's still got the ration stamps in it:


Yes, we'll be keeping that. Most likely it'll go in a display with other neat historical or just old things that we've found during the process of the renovation.

I figure I'll be able to tease Stingray about this one for a while:


And this little beauty is still in good shape, though a little dusty on the outside. I didn't take the time to plug it in so I don't know if it works or not, but if it does, I'm reasonably certain we've got some film floating around somewhere for it:


Alas, for all the progress I made today (and I did, I swear) there's still plenty of stuff to be gone through and re organized. So, there will undoubtedly be more treasure photos taken. I might even share.



Of course, if any of my friends want to come dig through the stuff and enjoy the neat things, they're more than welcome to. The cost is just that you have to help me go through all of it and re organize it, and move some furniture around. Anyone? Anyone?

Oh well, I like the sound of crickets anyway.....

Monday, April 7, 2014

Random Gripes

Maybe it's the fact that I'm working nights again and the body isn't entirely appreciating the swap, especially since we have had some nice daytime weather.

Or maybe I'm just seeing a bunch of stuff that makes me cranky lately. Who knows? I figured I'd share a couple of my random gripes with ya'll, though they share a very general common theme:

1. Cismale/female whatever gender whatsit.

Here's the thing: I don't give a flying monkey buttcrack whether you think of yourself as a man or a woman or if you prefer to think of your sexuality as "Flying monkey buttcrack." It's none of my damn business. That being said: It's none of my damn business. Stop jumping up and down on the rainbow colored trampoline and waving a big ole look at me flag and then complaining because people are offended by you shoving your personal business in their face. No, you shouldn't have to conform to what someone else thinks. No, you shouldn't be ostracized or victimized because of the way you view yourself. But I shouldn't be forced to know more about your personal preferences than I want to. And let's face facts, for the transvestites and transsexuals: If you look like a man trying really hard to look like a woman and failing, people are going to react to that. Same goes for the other way around. It's not something people outside of a few locales see every day. I wouldn't expect not to get looks if I went riding my horse in full western getup down Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive.

And before anyone can say "yeah but they wouldn't be looking at you with disgust" I'm gonna call bullshit on that one preemptively. Lots of segments of society look at me, my lifestyle, and my origins with disdain, and disgust. The difference is that I write them off as ignorant and move on. I probably wouldn't get physically assaulted for it, granted, and no it's not ok that anyone has to worry about that for their lifestyle choices. But there's also a certain amount of be smart involved. It's not ok that as a small female I have to worry about being grabbed in bars, or walking down dark alleys in certain locations. But, just because it's not ok and I don't like it doesn't mean the world conforms to my wishes and suddenly all of the violent people in the world who target small females just stop.

I try to be smart about where I go and what I do, I've taken steps to be able to defend myself, and I go on with life. It's not ok that I, or anyone, has to worry about being attacked. But it's also not ok to expect everyone else to take care of you. Fact is it's a big bad dangerous world and if someone tries to hurt you your best defense is not societal acceptance, it's yourself. Most of society accepts that I have a vagina and feel like I should have a vagina just fine. That doesn't mean that someone isn't going to try to hurt me because I'm female, or because I'm a smartass, or just because they think they can.

Yes, everyone has a right to be who they want to be (unless who they want to be is hurting others, in which case, that's not ok) and no I don't think it's right for people to judge the way Trans (I guess it's capitalized? I dunno...) folks live their lives, much less get physical about it. But the LBGTwhatever community doesn't get to vilify everyone who isn't either. I am not broken because I was born with a vagina and feel like I ought to have a vagina. I am not wrong because I don't intimately understand the emotional drive of someone who isn't that way. It works the other way around, too, but just because I don't get it on that instinctive understanding level doesn't mean that I'm their enemy.

Go live your life, be a good person, and good people will want to be around you and support you. That'll work way better than what I've been seeing a lot of: Attention whoring and then throwing the discrimination card when someone calls them on the attention whoring.

For all I write a blog and have "fans" I'm not all that fond of the spotlight. That's why I do this instead of stand up comedy or acting or other fame-grabbing things. That's why I write under a pseudonym. I know there are those who have met me in person, even at blog meets and such, who have noticed me cringing a little when someone "recognizes" me. I don't mind meeting people and interacting with them, but being "known" before I really talk to them? It makes me squirm. Yeah, I'm a wierdo, I've never denied it.

And I'm not a huge fan of those who deliberately do things solely for the attention it gets them, regardless of any other aspects of their lifestyle. So no, I don't give a crap if you're one of the umpty-eleven new gender definitions available on Facebook. I do give a crap if you shove it in my face in the name of "gaining acceptance."

Nobody gives a crap that my second toe is smaller than my big toe. If your gender and sexual identities are just part of who you are, then nobody not in your bedroom or otherwise needing to know should give a crap about them either. Screaming about it just makes you annoying and makes people less likely to listen to your actual message over all of the hysteria.

2.  OMGWTFBBQ Cops are EEEBIL

Ok, yes, there are definitely badge-heavy individuals in the law enforcement profession. Yes, there are bad things that they do. Yes they should have to face consequences for them.

But, and I see this entirely too much in the gunnie community considering how we all rail against a few bad apples giving us a bad rep: that doesn't mean that they're all awful. Or that, having done something awful themselves, every awful thing that could possibly happen to them is suddenly justified.

I'm really tired of seeing the "it's bad when it happens to me but not when I do it to them" crap. I saw an article linked on the bookface about a cop who had previously done something shitty being assaulted by three people and the headline was absolutely crowing about it.

This is not okay. I admit I have my own violent urges in certain circumstances. There are people that I would get immense satisfaction out of laying a beat-down on them at this very moment. But that doesn't make it okay. They've done things that I see as awful and deserving of consequences, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to create those consequences for them outside the bounds of the law.

And every time someone does that, especially with law enforcement, they erode away at the good cops' belief in humanity. By treating all law enforcement as the enemy (they're not) and by people attacking officers, they're creating the situation they're railing against. Because I'll guarantee you that every time an officer gets attacked or they have a hostile interaction with a member of the public, the LEOs I know become a little more guarded, a little less willing to trust the public. And I can't really blame them, they deserve to go home at night if they can. Thing is, they've volunteered to put themselves in the position of maybe not going home, so that the public can.

Personally, having known and had interactions with good and bad law enforcement, I operate on a very simple premise: The uniform gets respect first. They can definitely lose that respect based on their interactions with me, but they get a certain amount of respect just for showing up. It's the same thing I give to our men and women in the military.

Stop vilifying a profession that does still attract the truly good people who honestly want to help others because it also happens to attract people who get off on the power trip. Alternately, feel free to go through the training and put on a badge every day knowing that today you might just be the one that's not going home, so that Susie Homemaker and her kids can.

The general theme here? It's not black and white, not everyone in any group is evil, and I'm really tired of people acting like someone is better or worse than someone else based on some random douchebag or saint. Plus, doing so (in either direction) makes you look like a fanatic idiot.

If I could afford it I'd buy the whole world a nice new pair of big girl panties and tell 'em to pull 'em up and get on with life, but I can't. So instead I'll gripe on my own little corner of the internet.

Oh, and if you don't like anything I've said? Feel free to comment and tell me why, but if you can't have an actual conversation about it, I'm just going to make fun of you for acting like a fanatic.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trees!

Went to the farm yesterday and did some tree climbing to get cuttings. I was going to do some pruning as well, but the wind was a little higher than I would have liked for that, so I left it for another day.

Here in FarmFamVille, the trees are at that early spring stage where they're ready to jump on it the moment the nights warm up enough long enough to get some leaves out. It's as if all of the buds are at a starting gate, going "All right, it's coming. I can feel it, it's coming. Get ready! Get ready! Wait for it.... waiiiiit for iiiit...."

We're still getting cool enough at night often enough that the buds are holding out for a little better weather, outside.

Inside, on the cuttings, is a different story. Bring em in out of the weather (because there's nowhere outside that I can put them that they won't get windblown all to hell... facts of life here are just that if I want cuttings I'm going to have to get em started inside) and give em good water and the buds swell and green like crazy. 

I have some from last week, from the lone surviving mulberry at the farmhouse, that the buds look like they're gonna hatch little pod people soon. This is a good sign, I'm cautiously optimistic. Yesterday I hit the trees at the old ranch house, by the range pasture. There once was a whole enclosure of trees, though many of them have died over the years. Lack of care, lack of water, they were just old, really it's all of the above. I'm working on getting the surviving trees back into shape, but it's a slow process since I'm new to all of this and I'm just one person. I mostly worked on the trees near the Farmhouse last year, this year it's the ranch trees' turn.

No one lives there, and the house is in bad enough shape that no one is going to live there, but I still want to do what I can. For one, trees are rare enough on the plains that I want to do what I can to preserve the ones we have. For another, those mulberry trees make a decent additional food source for some of our wildlife, and since I'm pro wildlife, I'm all for that.

But a big chunk of it is just heritage. If I'm lucky I'll be able to trim these up and get em healthier, and they'll last several more years. But we've lost enough trees around the Farmhouse especially that it looks... bald. Since that's not how it is in my memory, I want to get some more trees back in, and mom wants fruiting trees. For a small investment in materials and a large investment of time I can hopefully get saplings started from cuttings. More time on my side but less money, and I'm enjoying the time I'm spending on it. 

Plus, if I'm extra-successful with the cuttings, not only do I get to start rebuilding the picture in my head of the Farmhouse some, but I can turn any extras to good use. Either as bonsai (come on, tiny fruiting tree? That's just cool...) or as trade goods/repayment to folks who have helped me out in this ongoing project. Like the wonderful mother of a friend who sent me a bunch of her leftover gallon size nursery pots from the stuff she's done in her garden over the years. And then donated currant bushes from her garden when she learned that I was trying to figure out how to get some for Farmmom.

I've also got several cuttings from what I like to call the Miracle Pear Tree. In certain areas, you hear lots of stories about how Great Grandpa Willy tossed a peach pit, or a pear seed, or a plum pit from his midmorning snack and bam! There grew a tree! 

It does happen here, though not as often. We've got a couple of those types of trees, one is far less surprising, being located right up against the side of the shop. Sheltered from the wind, watered with the runoff from the roof of whatever moisture we do get, it's pretty believable. The other.... is not in a place you would expect such a thing to happen. Not here, anyway.

It's out in the middle of an open patch over at the old ranch house. It's got some shelter from all the other trees, but it's not like the other one. This area has been opened up to the pasture and grazed off and on over the years, too. So this tree sort of survived against the odds, to start with. And then it produced fruit. Farmdad can remember one of his horses that loved the pears from that tree. He says that this gelding, who was built a lot like Monkey in the long and leggy pattern, would rear up to reach the fruit on the higher branches to snack on. It's still hanging in there, though I don't think it produced any fruit last year, not enough water. I've got cuttings from it from this spring as well, with fingers crossed that they do well.

Ok, enough babbling, have some pictures with (brief) explanations. 


That's one of the mulberry trees at the old ranch house. Don't throw things at me, I didn't have a fork with me to clear out the tumbleweeds. It'll get done, it just didn't yesterday.


The Miracle Pear. As you can see it sort of stands off by itself. Like I said, it's got some shelter, the three sides not pictured here have trees in a sort of three-sided box, but they're 50 yards away or more, and most of them are dead. 


This is sort of an illustration of one reason I find bonsai such a challenge. I haven't really gotten into styling yet, but I've been reading a lot on the subject, and most of the bonsai artists that I really like their work seem to say the same thing: Look at the trees in your area, and make your bonsai look like them. Well, sure, you want that natural look, but honestly around here most of the trees either look scraggly, or have the wind-blown lean to the north. Or both.


Which is not to say that we don't have trees that I think are beautiful This one at another location is one of them. Yeah it could definitely use some cleaning up, but I like the way it looks. Oh, and all of these are living trees, I promise. They just haven't started leafing out yet. They're all in that "wait for it" stage of spring.


And last, but certainly not least, the ever helpful Thomas Cat. I never would have expected him to get as big as he has from the teeny kitten that he was, and he's retained all of the snuggliness and love that he had as a kitten.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oh Hey, I'm Still Alive! Also, Have A Couple Book Reviews.

Not much blogworthy (and bloggable) has been happening here lately. Some frustrations, some good stuff, but none of it really pops out at me as something I really need to write about.

I will say that an event at work last week influenced me a bit on this post. I've been spending some time on the jail side of things down at the SO, and as you can imagine there are always those who don't like the fact that they're in jail. Can't really blame them there, though it does seem to be easier on everyone if all parties concerned can manage to be civil, if not pleasant. I haven't had any problems in that area myself, but I have had those situations where things are just a little bit strained. One gentleman had been something of a mystery to me, since he never really struck up a conversation or said much of anything to me at all, just stared at the TV and slept.

Until I saw him reading On A Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony. Now, I've read it and I liked it, but this tale isn't about that book so much as it's about the ability for books to forge a connection between people. Because of that book, I was able to make a small connection to someone who hadn't really had any way to connect to me before that. A stone faced yes or no answering man became a man who was capable of smiling. And he had something to smile about. It was, honestly, a very brief interaction, but it was important to me, and it reminded me of the impact the written word can have on us. And of the serious (and sad) decline in reading in our society.

So, I decided to do a couple of book reviews/promotions, to do my part to encourage literacy and connection. First up, in order of the beloved nature of the author:

The Grey Man

This is OldNFO's book, and if you read me and don't read him, you should fix that. I've always loved NFO's stories, and while usually I hear them over the phone or in person, I was delighted to get a fictional one in print. I've been privileged to read some of his writing before he got serious about this particular story, and despite some bumps in the road (once you get into a habit of writing in a certain style, it's really hard to break it even when you want to, I give him major kudos for the work he put in on this book) The Grey Man has finally arrived as a finished book.

I'm gonna confess right now that I haven't read the finished version yet. I did get to read earlier versions and provide my meager input, but I just haven't gotten to reading the finished one yet. Part of it is that things got a little hectic around here, and part of it is when I realized I could sit down and go through it again it was too late for me to be any help in the editing process, so I decided to set it aside for a while to come back at it with fresh reading-for-fun eyes instead of the same catch-all-the-typos eyes. I will be buying a paper copy, and probably a digital copy.

It's a wonderfully twisty tale with a little bit of everything: mystery, drama, humor, romance. I don't want to give away any spoilers so it's hard for me to talk about the book itself, but the story always had me coming back for more.

No matter what NFO might say about his alpha and beta readers being the ones to make the book any good, I maintain my stance that all we did was come along after and help polish it. Buy it, read it, review it yourself. I'm personally hoping that this is the beginning of a beautiful series. (And I will encourage and nag and poke and prod as necessary to make that happen.)

Next up is K.B. Spangler, and her two books Digital Divide and Maker Space.

Ms. Spangler (or Otter, which is name she started the comic under and how I still think of her) writes and draws the webcomic A Girl And Her Fed which I already adored. Almost from the start she realized that there were aspects of the story of this fantastic world she'd built that didn't quite fit into the comic, so she wrote a few short stories and sold them in her store. I haven't got them all, though I will eventually. What I do have are her two books that have spun off of the comic: Digital Divide and Maker Space (at the top of the comic page there's a link that says "Books!" and you should click it.)

Otter has some amazing fans, folks. Periodically someone will donate some money to her cause with the earmark of having it provide copies of the short stories or books to those who really want to read them but can't afford to buy them just now. She's run specials of her own for providing pdfs of her work to fans who are in a bad place financially, too.

Being in one of those hard financial spots myself, when I saw that someone had donated ten copies of Digital Divide two hours previous, I asked if there were any left. I was pretty sure the answer would be no, but miraculously I seem to have slipped in under the wire. Then I dove into the story and could barely come up for breath. When I finished it, I promptly went about (metaphorically) scouring couch cushions for loose change so that I could buy Maker Space.

If you're not familiar with the world, here's a quick overview: the back story occurs in the comic. A Girl And Her Fed is chock full of fantasy elements. The ghosts of dead Presidents, a genetically engineered smart ass evil thinking koala (god, I love Speedy) and a pair of protagonists that you can't help but root for. It's also chock full of social commentary, just heads up. The comic pretty well stands on a solid base of it though, and builds from that core premise, which makes the commentary far less of a metaphorical scream in your ear. I've plugged the comic here before, so I won't jabber on it any more than that.

The books expand the world that Otter built in the comic. She takes some of the side characters and builds their stories up, fills them out, and makes you adore them. The main protagonist of the book is Rachel Peng, who I was prepared to like from her brief appearances in the comic, but who swiftly became one of my favorite characters in that world once I got a chance to get inside her head a bit more.

The books are less fantasy focused than the comic. No ghosts, no Speedy, but you're still dealing with a world in which a few corrupt government officials have managed to come up with a chip that goes inside a human being's brain and connects them to every computer in the world, get it installed in a bunch of the best and brightest volunteers from across government service, and proceed to try to turn them into depressed, barely functional machines of human beings to control them.

The books tell the story of the Agents after they discover what was done to them and try to heal, and get on with doing the wonderful, awesome things they were told they'd be doing to serve their country when they volunteered. It's a tale of good trying, struggling, fighting to overcome the same kind of petty me-first evil that we see every day, on a grand scale.

You will find yourself rooting for the Agents, sometimes in spite of what they do, because they're wonderfully whole people, and they're functioning in basically the same kind of world that we are, where the right thing isn't always easy and we sometimes have to not do the right thing for one person because it would hurt a lot of others.

Highly recommended, both books. I gladly backed the Kickstarter that let Otter turn Maker Space into an audio book before I read either of them, and I'll gladly read anything else she puts out in the future.

Go forth, my minions, and read. Share a book with a friend, a family member, or a stranger. Make a connection, or just revel in the joy of a good story on a beautiful day. Or a nasty day, curled up with a hot drink and a warm blanket. Or a very late night when you didn't intend to stay up because you just have to know what happens next. Or... you get the picture.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Stuff and Things

Some interesting things have happened at work, but of course, I can't (or won't) talk about them here. Suffice to say that I feel like I'm getting along well at work and enjoying the company of my co-workers, while I have it. And that's not just the fact that I've spent most of my working time alone, thanks to being on the night shift.

Not much interesting has happened at home either, since I've been staying on night-shift sleeping schedule to try not to hate the entire world. Let me just say that four AM is a pretty lonely, empty time. I have gotten adjusted well enough that I'm getting a little more sunlight, and managed a walk the other day, so that helped. I'm deliberately not focusing on the fact that I got my walk because my car wouldn't start. I walked, I got fru-fru coffee from the new place in town, the weather was nice, it was good.

And I got a new battery for the car. That cost more than I wanted it to. But I don't have to worry about it not starting when I want to go home. So yay that.

Other than that it's just been occasional chuckles at the dogs, since FarmDog and Fuzzy Pup are convinced that I'm gone forever every time I go to work and were convinced for a while that I must have been sick since I was sleeping all day.

They weren't impressed the morning I came home smelling of one of our canine officers-in-training, either, but I was glad of the chance to officially meet the dog. You'd never think he was in bite training to meet him, since he's an eager-to-please attention hound, but I have no doubt that he's quite good at that part of his job, if only because he is so intense and eager-to-please. Maybe one of these days I'll get a chance to watch him work (in a practice situation, personally I'd be happy if he spent his entire career getting to be a floor-warmer.)

Otherwise, my life is really boring, because I'm asleep most of the day and finding ways not to lose my mind in the wee hours of the morning. Mostly ridiculously high drama long running tv shows and old favorite books. I went through all of Grey's Anatomy that's available on Netflix, if that tells you how deeply I'm dipping into the drama genre pool. So far it's been reasonably successful at keeping the drama on the screen instead of in my work, and I'm pretty ok with that.

Working nights makes me boring....

Friday, January 31, 2014

Yay Shift Work!

Got a new job that involves some swap around shift type stuff. Spent the last few days playing fun sleep schedule games.

B 12 is my friend.

Won't be talking much about the new job, since it's dispatching for the local Sheriff's Office and I can't talk about a good chunk of it, but if any entertaining bits that I can talk about come up I'll probably share.

Right now the funniest bit is that the deputy that responded to AD's great deer-killing accident at Blogorado 1 didn't realize until the fourth day of my training when he was told that that bunch of crazy people and the guy posing with the deer head was involved with me.

One of the other dispatchers got to remind him of it. She was the one who sent him on the call and remembered it when we were discussing the Elksplosion... because I showed her the pictures on the blog, she commented on the hat and cig, and I had to explain where that came from.

I think it's gonna be fun, based on the amount of laughter around the office during my training days.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Farewell, Freind

Tonight, the world lost a little of it's sunshine. A good friend of ours passed away after a long fight with liver failure.

I had known this man literally as long as I could remember. I went to school with his son, he was a friend of Farmdad's, and I can recall a lot of time spent hanging around looking for trouble to get into in his shop. He had a huge heart and a laugh so infectious the CDC really should have known about it. 

He never, ever gave up. I swear, he was a poster child for living life to the fullest, and for taking everything life could throw at you and tossing it back with a grin. If I know anything about laughing in the face of life, I learned at least a part of it from him.

Some of the Blogorado crew got to meet him, that first year. Those who didn't, missed out, I think. Though, I think anyone anywhere who didn't get the chance to know this man lost out, so take that for what it's worth. 

Rest easy, Jesse. I am proud to have known you, and I will never forget the lessons you taught me, intentional or not.